Travel documents: Why does it take so long to get a passport?
If you’ve been itching to travel, you might end up frustrated at the length of time required to get a passport. A major backlog is causing months of delay.
If you have travel plans and your passport is expiring soon, it is best to apply for a new one immediately.
Travelers are preparing for spring and summer vacations, but their plans could be jeopardized as U.S. passport applications are backlogged, with waiting periods lasting for months.
Since the start of this year, the time to process passports has increased, with routine applications taking 10 to 13 weeks as of March 24, way up from 6-9 weeks. Expedited passports take seven to nine weeks to process. These processing times do not include mailing times, which could take up to two weeks from the time the passports are printed. Consider the total time needed when booking your travel tickets.
Why does it take so long to get a passport?
Demand for passports is usually higher from late winter into summer, which are peak travel seasons, but this is not the only reason for the delay. The covid-19 pandemic also continues to have a significant impact on the processing times for passport applications, because there is pent-up demand after travel restrictions were lifted all over the world. The State Department has reported 500,000 passport renewal applications per week, which is 30-40% higher than last year’s figures.
There are staffing shortages because the State Department laid off or re-assigned people who were handling passports during the height of the pandemic, when there was low demand for travel. There were also closures of passport agencies and acceptance facilities.
The department has added more staff members this year and are currently hiring even more. They have also been rolling out an online passport renewal process since August.
However, many travelers have complained that it has taken months for them to receive their documents, leading to costly cancellations of travel plans.
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